Maryland Democratic Party Stands With Maryland HBCUs

Jan 29, 2018

Annapolis, MD — Today, the Maryland Democratic Party Executive Committee passed a resolution urging Governor Larry Hogan to grant sufficient settlement authority to Attorney General Brian Frosh to resolve The Coalition for Equity and Excellence in Maryland Higher Education v. Maryland Higher Education Commission.

“Like they did in the decades prior to the Brown v. Board of Education decision, and the in decades since, Historically Black Colleges and Universities play a critical role in Maryland’s university system, and in American society,” said Maryland Democratic Party Chair Kathleen Matthews.  “Settling this lawsuit is in the mutual interest of all parties.”

Before the Supreme Court’s 1954 ruling in Brown v. Board of Education, the Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) were the only access most African Americans had to higher education in America.  Right here in Maryland in 1930, 24 years prior to the Brown decision, a 22-year-old Thurgood Marshall was denied admission to the University of Maryland law school because he was African American.

Like many African Americans prior to the Brown decision and since, Justice Marshall eventually received his law degree from an HBCU, which provided him with the foundation for his legal activism against segregation.  HBCUs in Maryland and nationwide, have educated generations of African Americans—providing them with an opportunity to enter the middle class and giving birth to many social movements that have changed American society.

HBCUs have faced economic challenges amid competition from the state’s university system, and so in 2006, alumni of those universities—Coppin State University, Bowie State University, Morgan State University, and the University of Maryland Eastern Shore—filed a suit against the Maryland Higher Education Commission demanding that Maryland meet its obligation to HBCU students.

The following is a resolution passed by the Maryland Democratic Party Executive Committee calling on Governor Hogan to authorize Attorney General Frosh to settle the lawsuit:

Maryland Democrats call on Governor Hogan to authorize Attorney General Frosh to publicly disclose what authority has been given to the Attorney General to resolve the HBCU lawsuit. 

In addition, the Maryland Democratic Party calls on the Governor to grant sufficient settlement authority to the Attorney General to resolve the lawsuit against the state.

In a 2013 ruling in the case, Federal District Court Judge Catherine Blake wrote, “Students who enter Maryland’s historically Black institutions – whether Black, White, or of other races – do not have an equal educational opportunity as those students who attend the state’s traditionally White institutions.”

In a ruling issued in November of last year, Judge Blake prohibited Maryland from “maintaining vestiges of the prior de jure system of segregation…”